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Entries in Eighth Grade (17)

Tuesday
Mar122019

Nathaniel's (Belated) Top Ten List of 2018

by Nathaniel R

Given that we're two months into a new year, the best cinema of 2018 is receding in our mind's eye, still shimmering but moving out of focus. But so much vivid color and feeling remains. Before we are fully blinded to its beauties (until, that is, they are "old films" and we can revisit) by a whole new batch of cinematic images to obsess over, here's one last post to honor the year that was. Here's your host's choices for the 25 best films of 2018.

This year's HONORABLE MENTIONS are a varied bunch taking us from horny self-discovery in Swedish woods to a trash-heap island in Japan. Strangely, grief was the year's most defining theme across genres as diverse as horror, tragicomedy, bopics, thrillers, character studies, and romantic dramas.

The films are listed in loosely ascending order, though we always reserve the right to change our minds where lists and rankings are concerned:

  • Paddington 2 (Paul King, UK) If all franchises were crafted with this much heart and warmth and wit, Hollywood wouldn't feel souless at all.
  • Border (Ali Abassi, Sweden) A refreshing oddity which totally commits to its own hybrid identity as its protagonist discovers hers.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Ramsey, Persichetti, and Rothman, US) If all superhero movies were this fun, inclusive, and inventive, they'd deserve their now automic success in the marketplace.
  • First Man (Damien Chazelle, US) A nation's epic ambitions paired with a marriage's intimate drama. So elegantly crafted.
  • Burning (Lee Chang-dong) as elusive and mysterious as a cat that doesnt want to be seen, until it saunters boldy into sight to stare you down.
  • First Reformed (Paul Schrader, US) The year's most disturbing drama. Hard to shake and necessary.
  • Widows (Steve McQueen) Overstuffed and strangely paced, but reverberating with provocative ideas and juicy characters. 
  • Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, Lebanon) For all that urgency and visceral feeling, not to mention one of the great child performances.
  • Support the Girls (Andrew Bujalski, US) for its ramshackle charms and subtle character-portrait
  • Hereditary (Ari Aster, US) What a calling card debut, from that dollhouse opening shot all the way through that psychotic break ending, a new horror classic. 

RUNNERS UP. Oh, if there were room in the top ten for all of these...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb182019

A Shocking First-Time-Ever WGA Surprise!

To all the other nominees in the category, have fun at the Oscars, LOSERS!"
-Bo Burnham accepting his WGA prize for Original Screenplay

This is not common at all but last night the Writers Guild of America opted to ditch the Best Picture nominated films and instead chose Can You Ever Forgive Me? in Adapted and Eighth Grade (which was not even nominated for the Oscar *sniffle*) in Original as the year's best screenplays. Though the WGA and the Oscar winners only line up about half the time (some of that due to eligibility differences) it's pretty rare that the WGA skips Best Picture nominees if they have the option of awarding them. The last time they gave their Adapted Screenplay prize to a non Oscar Best Pic contender was American Splendor (2003) and the last time they gave their Original Screenplay to a non Oscar Best Pic contender was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) so we're talking quite a while ago. It's so uncommon that it happening in both categories simultaneously is a downright shock; it's literally never happened in the history of the WGA...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb132019

Film Bitch Awards: Casting, Ensemble, Breakthrough, Young Actors

by Nathaniel R

We're still hoping to have the Film Bitch Awards wrapped up before Oscar night. Tonight, the remaining "extra" acting categories. We've already shared the Best Cameo performances so here's four more prizes to discuss and consider. Please do share your own favourites in these categories, too.

BEST CASTING / BEST ENSEMBLE
Some might argue that these categories go hand in hand (the way others object to the notion of Picture/Director splits) but we think of them as two different though highly complimentary accomplishments...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan162019

Watch at Home: Eighth Grade & Old Man and the Gun 

What's newly available for home viewing? Herewith a quick survey of new releases andgreat deals

DVD/Blu-Ray
Halloween -  Jamie Lee Curtis returns to battle her star-making demons in this monster hit
Madeline's Madeline - While it wasn't quite an arthouse hit, this experimental film has obsessive fans. 
Mid90s -Jonah Hill's directorial debut
Monsters & Men - John David Washington is up for a Spirit Award for his supporting role in this well reviewed race drama
Old Man and the Gun - Robert Redford charms, and Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck provide soulful support in this mellow but pleasing bank robbery movie...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan032019

Blueprints: Five Expertly Written Scenes of 2018

by Jorge Molina

A screenplay has to accomplish many things to be successful: establish the characters, create and maintain tension, introduce the plotlines and carry them smoothly and compellingly, grasp the audience’s attention and hold it for two plus hours. A good script does it all. A great script makes it all look easy and seamless.

We previously sang the praises of 5 original screenplays and 5 adaptations. This week, we're getting more specific with 5 scenes. While each of the following stories were successfully told overall as one cohesive movie, their writing stood out for making a particular element of screenwriting shine; each unique to the story they were trying to tell.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan022019

Watch at Home: Eighth Grade, Bad Times at the El Royale

What's newly available for home viewing? Herewith a very quick survey of new releases and/or great deals. Links go to reviews.

DVD/Blu-Ray
Bad Reputation a doc for Joan Jett fans
Bad Times at the El Royale seven strangers, each with "a secret to bury" meet at a hotel. So like Clue + 1 only noirish?

Also new: AXL, Love Gilda, Night School, and White Boy Rick

iTunes 99¢ Deals of Note This Week
Eighth Grade -Bo Burnham's inspired you-are-there comedy about everyone's favourite existential horror: middle school
12 Angry Men - the legendary courtroom drama was nominated for 3 Oscars including Best Picture of 1957 (pssst. it's also available right now on Prime)
The Apartment -1960's big Oscar winner starring Jack Lemmon & Shirley Maclaine and an over-extended bachelor pad.
Fargo -This freezing cold comic noir is still the best Coen brothers movie, right? Best Actress winner 1996 Frances McDormand.
Platoon - Oliver Stone's bracing 1986 Vietnam war drama and Best Picture winner

Streaming
ICYMI What's new on Netflix & Amazon Prime